People work toward retirement and some of them reach it.
Tim Kent retired this week with a simple, well attended event which included cake, which in my mind is about as good as it gets and was gifted 2 original pottery pieces made by Quapaw member Betty Gaedtke.
After his twenty years with the Quapaw Nation's Environmental Department the Tar Creek Superfund site under his leadership gained national news as he lead the tribe's efforts to be the first Indigenous government to gain a contract with EPA to do cleanup on their own tribal lands.
Tim is a quiet man, not easy to anger, but steady and true to the words he offered at the gathering, always humble recognizing the work of his staff but also the honor he had felt having the opportunity to work for the Quapaw Nation.
Ken is featured in Making a Difference at the Tar Creek Superfund Site, Community Efforts to Reduce Risk and repeated his method of success at the site. "There are three components to consider about these sites: politics, science and policy." I give Tim Kent a lot of credit for using his 3 sided stool method and EPA's engagement with the tribe but he went on to say, "Making big changes takes money, and EPA has less money every year. You have to be the squeaky wheel, but you cannot be as squeaky as your senator can be. That is what it takes. It's worked for us." He never raiser his voice but he got EPA and the tribe to the table, and kept them there.
Retirement came to Dan Riley too this month.
He didn't get a cake. He had worked his whole life, the last ten years with Fed Ex after having worked also for UPS, and for the county. He had sold John Deere Tractors in Kansas and raised cattle, raised wheat, and raised a family. Bailing hay was how I came to know Dan Riley and to learn how really special it feels to work the land. I bought a tractor a number of years ago from him and just a week after retiring does he go on a vacation? buy a brand new comfortable chair and put his feet up? No, he comes to see my 4240 John Deere and tend to his needs.
There was a joy I saw when that guy peered into the side panel. It seemed like a brother to him. After a couple of trips to town, he had gotten the 2 front tires, 2 new2 batteries, the oil changed, Freon added, the seat pumped up to just my size, all of the zerts greased and the Hydraulic fluid checked, then he moved on to ensure the 3430 Kubota and the 2155 John Deere got the attention they deserved, too.
I watch, observing where and how zerts are serviced, learned how to operate a new air compressor and how to pump up the seat in that 2-storied tractor with basically a ladder on the side to climb to get into the cab. That 4240. I can see what draws Dan Riley back to it.
My brother Clark Frayser is a "car guy" with vintage Jaguars and a 60's Austin Healey, but he is not a Dan Riley kind of car guy who actually races his vintage mustangs and even placed second at Hallett Last month.
Not knowing if Tim Kent has tractors to tend in his retirement, I do know that biking has been a really big part of his life, even if he got bucked off his bike recently. He is up and doing and will surely do like Dan Riley and will be finding the things that starts his engine, knowing some of that will bring him back to assist the tribal efforts to make a difference at Tar Creek.
I am reminded of the lines from the poem To Be of Use by marge Piercy:
"The thing work doing well done has a shape that satisfies, clean and evident."
The people I love the best jump into work head first...
do that has to be done, again and again
The work of the world is common as mud...
But the thing worth doing well as a shape that satisfied, but were made to be used.
The pitcher cries for water to carry and a person for work that is real.
Respectfully Submitted ~ Rebecca Jim